The Warlords of Afghanistan

With the U.S.-backed government unable to maintain security, local strongmen are wielding more power than ever--and causing ordinary Afghans to lose faith in the West

Paula Bronstein / Getty

Like many mothers in Afghanistan, Maghferat Samimi has affixed a photo of a child to her mobile phone. But the 2 1/2-year-old is not her daughter. She is a rape victim, one of scores that Samimi, a researcher with the Afghanistan Human Rights Organization, has documented in the country's northern provinces over the past year. Witnesses to the child's abduction by a local militia commander have had their rape claim backed up by a nearby hospital, but the district police chief maintains that the child fell on a stick. The chief's objectivity in the matter, however, is hardly assured, given that...

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